empty nest answering machine

The nest can’t be very empty when the answering machine is full of messages. After and evening of teaching a Family to Family class a couple weeks ago, I had a couple messages on my answering from my children. I e-mailed a reminder to all my children that their father and I are busy the next several Tuesday evenings.
A week later we returned from class and had 10 messages on our answering machine. My daughter had called five or six times through the evening plus we had a couple messages each time from the St. Louis and Indiana bachelors. Ten messages, all from my children. Only one said, “I guess you are in class.”
I began returning the calls. Two of the three children were not waiting by the phone for my call. I reached the oldest and we talked about 0 minutes. He was excited about possibly helping plan a city-wide crusade. He had to hang up because another call was coming on the phone he shares with his landlady.
A couple minutes later I managed to catch my daughter between study sessions. She had a personal problem to air with me. I listened and assured her she had handed it appropriately and was making wise decisions. Once we had analyzed the crisis she talked about the mid-term crunch of books to read, tests to take and papers to write. So much to do, so little time to do it and a personal crisis.
We had barely hung up when my St. Louis son called to say he had just had an accident. His earlier calls had been about his search for a full-time job. He had walked away from a crash that spun his car around and broke the rear axle. The other driver went to the hospital. Neither driver was ticketed at the scene of the accident. The insurance companies get to sort that out.
Meanwhile he is without wheels, working two part time jobs in two different parts of the city and had an interview in yet another part. Fortunately he did choose a city with public transportation.
There are city bus stops near his apartment, right outside one job and he hoped somewhere close to his other job. He said he wasn’t hurt, then he hung up saying “I have another phone call coming in.” I lost out to a young woman he assures me he is not dating, but nonetheless felt confident was calling him at 11 p.m.
I had had a full day. I pulled up the covers to go to sleep. The phone rang one more time. It was some sort of delayed message my daughter had left. I couldn’t do anything about it right then. I turned out the light, assured that they all were more or less safe for the night and went to sleep. I had a full seven hours of sleep before one of them woke me with a call asking for prayer that day as they struggled through an emotional dilemma.
My children may be gone. Their beds may be empty. But our answering machine is full. As a parent I have the privilege of hearing their problems so I can turn my worries into prayer and check for messages left on our answering machine.